What else is Zillow good for?

If your Zillow Zestimate is higher than what your home sells for, than you will likely have no trouble appraising for the buyer’s loan, AND you can let it bid up if you get multiple offers without fear that it will not appraise.

If the Zillow Zestimate is lower than what you are able to sell your house for…don’t count your money until after the appraiser leaves, and be sure to take the offer with the most money down, and the buyer who is willing to make up the difference between sale price and appraised value in cash.

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About ARDELL

ARDELL is a Managing Broker with Better Properties RE Seattle/King County. ARDELL was named one of the Most Influential Real Estate Bloggers in the U.S. by Inman News and has 28 years experience in Real Estate up and down both Coasts, representing both buyers and sellers of homes in Seattle and on The Eastside. email: ardelld@gmail.com cell: 206-910-1000

20 thoughts on “What else is Zillow good for?

  1. The problem I had with Zillow checking homes here in Austin wasn’t so much the appraised value but what data it was using. It pulled comparable homes from half way accross town.

    On top of that, at least here in Texas, the sales price of the home is not recorded in the deed, so that the county can’t get you for more taxes. A typical deed will state “$10 and other valuable consideration” as the amount it was sold for. The actual sales price is only known to the parties in the transaction, the title company and the lender, and the distribution of funds is handled in escrow.
    Why is this important? Where the heck is Zillow getting sold price data from, if it’s not in the county records? Maybe in a few cases it is written in, which would explain the comparables from the other side of town.

    Bottom line, if you want to know the value of your home, just request a bunch of free CMAs from realtor websites. It only takes a few minutes to do and most will do it as part of lead generation.

  2. The problem I had with Zillow checking homes here in Austin wasn’t so much the appraised value but what data it was using. It pulled comparable homes from half way accross town.

    On top of that, at least here in Texas, the sales price of the home is not recorded in the deed, so that the county can’t get you for more taxes. A typical deed will state “$10 and other valuable consideration” as the amount it was sold for. The actual sales price is only known to the parties in the transaction, the title company and the lender, and the distribution of funds is handled in escrow.
    Why is this important? Where the heck is Zillow getting sold price data from, if it’s not in the county records? Maybe in a few cases it is written in, which would explain the comparables from the other side of town.

    Bottom line, if you want to know the value of your home, just request a bunch of free CMAs from realtor websites. It only takes a few minutes to do and most will do it as part of lead generation.

  3. I can’t speak for Texas, Dennis (can anyone?) but there are different “rules” in different states and for the most part, any homeowner who doesn’t want his sales price to be public record CAN figure out a way to hide it.

    In CA, real estate taxes change based on sale price, so even when they hide the sale price, we can back into the price by knowing the taxes. In FL you can count the tax stamps on the Deed.

    While it may be the norm to show the sale price, clearly people have a right of privacy to hide that fact from the Zillows of the world 🙂 Where there’s a will there’s a way if one is so inclined.

    I’m sure it’s not “illegal” anywhere to refuse to post your sales price, as in someone will handcuff you and carry you off to jail if you don’t show it.

  4. Pingback: Ubertor Real Estate Blog » ZillowTalk

  5. It must be legal. According to Texas real estate law, a deed is required to contain an item called “consideration”, which is a loose term meaning what the grantor gets in return for granting the deed to the next owner. However, there is no law that says it has to be a specific price. Thus, if my grandmother gifts me the land, the Consideration part of the deed will typically say “$10 and other valuable consideration” or “love and affection”.

    We are also not taxed on the sales price, but have appraisal districts. The variation in prices between tax apprasail and sales prices is sometimes 200% or more in fast moving areas. Obviously this data is useless for figuring out the market value of a home.

    Bottom line, a homeowner is best served by a free CMA from several realtors, and those who are just browsing and curious about other people’s homes should take the data with a big block of salt.

  6. FYI, when it comes to recent-sales data, there is always a big hole regarding Texas cities. The two sources, FirstAm and Fidelity, from which all this data springs, have said Texas legislation prohibits reporting sales prices on the county records (or something to that effect.)

    Best,
    Bert

  7. I don’t know about other MLS’s, but ours doesn’t even allow me to print out a list of specific homes and what they sold for, and send out flyers containing that information. I think it’s a good rule, it protects people’s privacy. I can only release that kind of information when helping a specific client with their real estate needs.

    I’m slowly finding out that Texas is one of the better states for real estate. We have a very solid system in place, consumer friendly laws regarding brokerage and agency, and on top of that, we have the Texas A&M real estate institute which publishes a lot of useful articles about the market.

    http://recenter.tamu.edu/

    Our MLS tools are very sophisticated as well, and home prices are rising while the rest of the country is experiencing a downturn.

  8. I don’t know about other MLS’s, but ours doesn’t even allow me to print out a list of specific homes and what they sold for, and send out flyers containing that information. I think it’s a good rule, it protects people’s privacy. I can only release that kind of information when helping a specific client with their real estate needs.

    I’m slowly finding out that Texas is one of the better states for real estate. We have a very solid system in place, consumer friendly laws regarding brokerage and agency, and on top of that, we have the Texas A&M real estate institute which publishes a lot of useful articles about the market.

    http://recenter.tamu.edu/

    Our MLS tools are very sophisticated as well, and home prices are rising while the rest of the country is experiencing a downturn.

  9. Allen,

    In that case, whoever wrote their algorithm is an idiot. I checked the house next door and the comparable homes were pulled from 10 miles away in some run down neighborhood. Our MLS generally requires you to be a member to release data, so they’d have to get license to obtain that info.

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